Each year, faculty in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) come together to select an outstanding student in their program to receive the honor of being named as their program award winner. Students selected for this award embody the very best of their program: they excel in their studies; they demonstrate leadership in classes and internships; and they have a genuine and tenacious passion for their discipline.
This year, faculty in the Early Childhood Education program have selected Latasha Sturgis as the Outstanding Student in Early Childhood Education (Special Education). Congratulations, Latasha!
Q & A with Outstanding Student in Early Childhood Education (Special Education), Latasha Sturgis:
What academic accomplishment are most proud of?
I am super proud of the confidence I gained in supporting and advocating for children with special needs. I am a better writer and I am able to explain to families how important their role is in their child’s Individualized Education Plan.
What organizations/affiliations have you been involved with while at Mason?
As a mom, teacher, and student, most of my responsibilities took place off campus. I connected with my advisor and my professors who supported me in balancing all my responsibilities while maintaining a high GPA. (3.95)
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to continue my work as a Special Education Teacher for the students of Alexandria. I want to embed new practices that I learned and implement these skills into my daily curriculum. My hopes are to mentor and encourage other paraeducators in the field to help them pursue their education and become teachers.
What is your favorite memory in CEHD or your favorite part of being a CEHD student?
My favorite memory is the conversations I had with classmates on how to strategize supporting students with challenging needs. It was nice to hear a different perspective and try them at work. I realized that my resources in the field of education were the teachers next door. We were each other’s support system. That bond and connection was priceless. I can also hear my professor’s voice in my head at work sometimes as they would help lead these deep conversations. Thank you Professor LaCroix and Professor Sopko!
What advice do you have for fellow CEHD students (especially those that are not graduating yet)?
I would encourage fellow students to stay connected to their advisor because their guidance really helps you navigate where you are going and helps you track your progress. The professors in this field truly value their students and get really excited when you reach out. You will find yourself checking off all of the boxes until you reach the finish line, which is the most rewarding feeling.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I was previously a paraeducator and I answered the call to the Grow Your Own Program at my current work location which was promoting paraeducators to pursue a degree in education to become teachers. I am happy that I made the decision and accepted my current position as an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher. I truly encourage others who are interested in becoming teachers to join me in this work. Building Future Leaders is something that I take to heart.